This Day in History

March 13, 2020: Breonna Taylor Killed by Louisville Police

Time Periods: 21st Century
Themes: African American, Criminal Justice & Incarceration, Racism & Racial Identity, Women's History

Photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

On March 13, 2020, Louisville police officers opened fire on the apartment home of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, shooting and killing her.

Three plainclothes police officers had a no-knock warrant to search Taylor’s apartment that evening. When Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Glover, realized that the apartment was being invaded, he shot at the intruders in self-defense and the three officers shot back, killing Taylor.

The African American Policy Forum explains,

The intended suspect of the warrant, sought in connection with a drug investigation, had in fact been apprehended earlier that morning. No drugs were found at the apartment and Breonna was unarmed. The police initially attempted to depict Breonna as a “suspect.” Louisville has since passed “Breonna’s Law,” which bans no-knock warrants, and Congress has introduced legislation to prohibit such warrants at the federal level.

Breonna Taylor’s name became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter and police abolition movement during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a symbol of the AAPF’s #SayHerName campaign to raise awareness of Black women’s deaths by police.

Photo by Rick Obst via Flickr.

In the fall of 2020, a grand jury reviewed the case and voted on indictments presented to them by the Kentucky Attorney General, Daniel Cameron. There were no indictments for murder presented. One officer was indicted for “wanton endangerment,” for shooting into the apartments next to Taylor’s residence. The officers who shot into Taylor’s apartment were not indicted and none were charged with Taylor’s death.

As of the first anniversary of Taylor’s death, legislation known as “Breonna’s Law ” — effectively a ban on no-knock warrants — has swept through state and city governments. According to the Courier-Journal:

  • One state, Virginia, has passed and signed an outright ban into law.
  • Forty-five proposals would ban no-knocks with exceptions, and 26 would restrict their use. Others would study, clarify or offer greater oversight of the warrants.
  • State legislators have put forth at least 39 bills on no-knocks, and local government or police department leaders have proposed or implemented another 33 measures.

Read the transcript at PBS Newshour.